www.firegoat.com » Reviews » Neal Morse
  Guest: Login | Sign up Slovenska verzija - Slovene version
Neal Morse - "Testimony"
Inside Out Records 2003

Well, who would expect this to happen? From where the hell gets this guy all his fruitful inspirations? Music is the language of soul and "Testimony" testifies Neal experiencing the God. Double CD's story bases on his experience of self revelation (triple edition containing cool bonus CD featuring cover Can't Find My Way Home from Blind Faith and 13 minutes epic lesson of Moody Blues called Tuesday Afternoon). And music? Very much in Spock's Beard vein. Spices of Al's "weird" twisted guitar chords, Ryo's chunky Hammond dashes and Dave's pounding Rickenbecker are missing here, but "Testimony" could be easily misplaced by any of Spock's Beard album. Neal fuses further! Genuine orchestral arrangement are present all over the record, songs run fluid one into another. Main goal, of picking up the pieces and puzzling the entire story together, is genuinely achieved. Diverse moods are present all the time. Neal did it with great feel. Violin arrangements are playing important role in filling and spicing the whole sound picture. If you expecting some church chorals you are wrong. Neal delivers also many catchy faster groovier moments and this double CD is standing proudly side by side with what he was doing while he was with Spock's Beard.

"Testimony" speaks about mans transformation through his own experience of God and the changing his way of living. Neal delivers approximately two hour-plus material, a simple journey out of rough darkness into pure land of light and grace. A self invented strategy of summoning the mans inner powers to struggle every day's challenge of living into material world obsessed by black magic that tugs us deeper and deeper into to everlasting wars in all it's senseless shapes and forms. This conceptualization seems to be written for Neal's type of songwriting.

He is singing soulfully all the way, cleverly adapting his vocals all the time to the structure of the songs that altogether works very convincible. Songs are diverse and high dynamics is present all the time. No time to get bored. Among 29 compositions many pure instrumentals are present, mixed and positioned nicely between songs. Concept is divided into five movements. Through first CD Neal reveals his life before being closer connected to Jesus and God (Lord). But straight with CD two he reaches change of his mind drive inside movement part two that joins pieces Transformation, Read To Try and Sing It High. Will he decide to join God or will he keep on following his old living manners? He chooses first option. Some Country-Western feel is present in song Sing It High.

Well there are too many songs and I will simply describe stiles that Neal fuses. He offers huge palette of everything. He gathers some poppy flavored jump offs merely based on piano arrangements, classic retro seventies symphonic prog rock moments, emotive and gentle ballads with outstanding soulful singing approach on distinctly Neal's own way, than he also adds some Celtic folk elements with great touch of acoustic guitar (f.e. in Somber Days) and spices up things even with some slide and flamenco guitar. He also didn't forget for some chunky organ dashing that raises the dynamics and brings shaky power on a record. Neal wraps everything into fantastic fully breathing orchestra arrangements that widens whole musical sound picture. Drums were done by Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). You won't have to read list of musician's appearances in booklet to recognize that. Powerful, diverse and gutsy as only Mike can be. Mike's intense power draws nice contrast inside to music as whole. As a special guest on guitar in song Long Story, Kerry Livgren (ex-Kansas) joins in.

Huh, all of you who expected Neal will join gospel choirs can now relax. Neal delivers fantastic masterpiece. It is exact continuing of what he was already doing with Spock's Beard. Fusion of several rock elements that smoothly and tasty runs one into another. No time to sleep. "Testimony" is book you will read for quite a long time, a story that will always make musically busy even most spoiled ears. Neal Morse confirms he is right now surely among the top songwriters in newly invented approaches of fusing the rock music.

Author:   Aleš

Content of this page is copyright of www.krokar.net and firegoat team.
All rights reserved. © 2000-2002